Brazil's Lula da Silva rejects semi-open prison conditions

MAURICIO SAVARESE
Supporters of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, shout slogans across the street from an act in support of operation Car Wash and former judge Sergio Moro, in front of Supreme Court headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. Brazil's Supreme Court will decide about a prisoner involved in the Car Wash operation, an anti-corruption investigation that managed to jail politicians and businessmen all over Latin America, that could open a door for others arrested during the operation, to appeal their sentences. The former president was jailed as a result of the Car Wash investigations. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Monday rejected exercising his right to semi-open prison conditions after spending a year and a half in a cell.

Prosecutors who led the corruption case against the Brazilian politician requested last week that he now be given more flexible conditions, which could include house arrest.

But da Silva ruled that possibility out in a letter posted on his website, saying he wants to leave imprisonment with a decision of Brazil's top court on his case.

"I want you to know that I won't accept bargaining with my rights and my freedom," the former president wrote.

The man who governed Brazil from 2003 to 2010 has been jailed since April 2018 after being convicted of corruption and money laundering. The once hugely popular left-leaning leader denies any wrongdoing and claims he was politically targeted by investigators. Several other cases are still pending against him.

Da Silva's suit in Brazil's Supreme Court argues that the judge in the case that put him in a cell, current Justice Minister Sergio Moro, was biased against him.

His letter had a defiant tone against Moro, now a top Cabinet minister under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, and prosecutors in the sprawling "Car Wash" corruption investigation that put him in jail.

"I have demonstrated that the charges against me are false. They are the ones who are trapped in the lies they have told Brazil and the world, and not me," said da Silva, 73.

Gleisi Hoffmann, who leads da Silva's Workers' Party, said the former president wants Brazil's top court to free him based on a finding of bias by Moro, who left his position as "Car Wash" judge at the end of 2018.

"Lula deserves to leave with his head up high, not under the conditions of those that illegally persecuted him," Hoffmann said, using the name by which most Brazilians call da Silva.

"It is very weird that all 'Car Wash' prosecutors that jailed Lula now want to see him out," she added. "Why are they suggesting Lula gets semi-open conditions while others have to ask their lawyers to get that right?"

Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol said he was only "following what the law says" in the case.

Since June, the internet news site The Intercept Brasil has been publishing leaked phone conversations between Moro and "Car Wash" prosecutors that da Silva's supporters say indicate they colluded in seeking convictions of da Silva and others.

Moro and prosecutors deny any wrongdoing.